What is decarbonization?
Decarbonization is the process of preventing or reducing carbon gasses from being released into the atmosphere, often as the result of burning fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases. Much like vehicles that are reducing emissions by becoming more fuel efficient, or powered by electric batteries, buildings are decarbonizing, too. Decarbonization is ongoing; it’s a journey. But with any journey, you want to feel confident that you’re making the right business decision for your future while being able to explain to stakeholders how implementing decarbonization strategies impacts your bottom line, your people, and the planet.
Why is decarbonization important in buildings?
“Sustainability” is a key priority for businesses, but its broad scope can make it difficult to translate goals into action. “Decarbonization” is a deliberate set of tactics that are part of a larger sustainable business model. It includes intentional strategies and measurable actions that allow organizations to reduce carbon emissions and garner data and insights that inform future decisions.
The move toward decarbonization is being driven by several factors, largely financial and regulatory.
- STAKEHOLDER & INVESTOR COMMUNITY PRESSURES
Twenty years ago, the sustainability space was typically occupied by the biggest organizations with the most resources. However, in the past 5 – 10 years, we’ve witnessed increased pressure from stakeholders and the investor community, for companies of all sizes, to make concrete efforts toward sustainability by prioritizing decarbonization.
- FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL REGULATIONS POLICIES AND REGULATIONS
Regulations and fines imposed by federal, state, and local governments have played a significant role in the increased focus on decarbonization efforts among organizations. Incentives have further impacted the rise in actionable goals around decarbonization and allowed organizations to future-proof their business from looming legislation.
- RISING ENERGY COSTS
With many regions anticipating a significant rise in electricity costs, organizations are paying close attention to three (3) key factors affecting their energy costs and carbon impact: (1) the amount of electricity consumed, (2) when it’s being consumed, and (3) how much of the supply is renewable energy (emissions-free electricity). A tangible benefit to the reduction in energy and operating costs is the reinvestment of capital elsewhere in the business.
- PEER AND CONSUMER PERCEPTION
Organizations are increasingly more aware of the perception linked to their actions – both among their customers and peer organizations. Customers are making purchase decisions based upon the actions, morals, values, and mission of organizations. Organizations understand that reputation matters and that a commitment toward decarbonization can offer a unique point of differentiation from competitors.
- COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE
Reducing carbon emissions is a proven and leading way to mitigate global warming. To be a meaningful part of this change, organizations recognize this as not only a social responsibility commitment but a critical business decision.
The path toward decarbonization
Sustainability is becoming a priority for organizations of all sizes. This is excellent progress, however, we often see customers focused on more visible aspects of their business, while their buildings — which account for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions1 – are often overlooked.
The path to decarbonization begins with a customized plan designed to meet the unique needs of each business and its buildings – whether it includes updated equipment, connected services, or net-zero emissions. Equally critical to establishing clear goals is evaluating progress. Intelligent services that offer the ability to monitor, record, document, and report ensure accountability and validate investments for organizations and key stakeholders. Decarbonization strategies are scalable and accessible for both big and small buildings, new construction, and renovation.
Chris Jones – Strategic Account Executive
Chris Jones is a Strategic Account Executive for Trane Commercial. Chris has worked for Trane for 12 years, predominantly focused on delivering business outcomes for clients through energy and financially-driven infrastructure upgrades. As a Comprehensive Solutions Account Executive, he has been involved in over $100M in design/build projects and helped facilitate over $10M in state and utility incentives. Chris graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is both a Certified Energy Manager and a WELL Building Accredited Professional. Chris lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter.
Joe Lucash is a National Account Executive for Trane Commercial. After over 35 years in the HVAC Industry, Joe now focuses his time on Owner Direct Design/Build Solutions ranging from Emergency & Planned Capital Replacements to pay from savings programs. He is a graduate of Texas A&M where he received his degree in B.S. in Industrial Distribution. Joe now lives in Dallas, Texas.
Staying relevant in today’s competitive market can be challenging, especially since there’s more to success than simply meeting traditional business goals. Thriving organizations must now look beyond decades-old drivers to examine their impact on the environment as they begin investing in corporate sustainability efforts. Added pressures from stakeholders, customers, and government regulations require businesses to act responsibly and with urgency.
Reducing your carbon footprint is a common component of any sustainability plan, but what does that even mean? A carbon footprint is the measurement of the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by an organization. In short, the larger the carbon footprint, the larger the negative effect on the air we breathe and our local communities.
The path to reducing your carbon footprint is through decarbonization – the process of decreasing and even removing CO2 emissions.
Business leaders face many common barriers like time, costs, and a clear starting point. A Trane expert can define and guide you through four key pillars of decarbonization to ensure efficiency and results throughout your journey.
- IMPROVE YOUR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Start with looking at your building envelope and look for areas of air leakage and deficient insulation. Shifting to LED lighting is simple, cost-effective, and helps to improve energy efficiency. Upgrading to energy-efficient equipment or optimizing your operations using your Building Automation System, will make an enormous impact on your energy use. These are often the first steps in reducing your carbon footprint.
- BEGIN ELECTRIFICATION
Now that you’re more energy efficient, you can shift your energy source to electric. Moving away from gas and other fossil fuel energy sources is the next critical piece of decarbonization. Electric energy reduces carbon emissions and helps lay a strong foundation for bigger conversions around clean energy. This will prepare your business to benefit when the grid moves to clean energy.
- REFRIGERANT MANAGEMENT
Converting your HVAC system and other onsite equipment to next-generation, low-GWP1 refrigerants is critical to slowing CO2 emissions. Regular maintenance and management will ensure your equipment continues to perform efficiently.
- CONVERT TO RENEWABLE (CLEAN) ENERGY
Once shifted to electric energy, converting to a clean energy source like solar or wind will decrease carbon emissions even more. These energy sources can provide the same amount of energy as electricity and are carbon neutral.
Just as every business is unique, each path to decarbonization is too, but reducing your carbon footprint is achievable through these defined pillars.
A dedicated, local Trane team will assess your goals, evaluate current regulations, and weigh current market opportunities on a local level. This will create a strategic plan that fits your timeline, budget, and goals so you can begin reducing your carbon footprint this year.
Doug Robertson, Account Manager Turnkey
Doug Robertson is an Account Manager for Trane Commercial where he has successfully completed hundreds of projects saving customers many millions of kWHs electrical and thousands of gJs annually. He has been with Trane for 26 years and in total has worked in the HVAC industry for over 37 years. Not only does Doug have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration but he continues to grow his expertise and education in the industry by attending diploma and certification programs. He has a Diploma in Automation Technology and Building Technology, is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) with the Association of Energy Engineers, and is an Applied Science Technologist (AScT) with the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia.
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